The documentary program for this year’s 60th Nordische Filmtage Lübeck (Oct. 30 – Nov. 4, 2018) promises to deliver an exciting cross-section of films on ways of life in the Nordic and Baltic countries, as well as vivid histories in Europe over the last 100 years. Of the 28 documentaries in the section, 16 will be in the running for the Documentary Film Prize awarded by the Lübeck trade unions.The award, to be presented at the 60th Nordic Film Days Lübeck on November 3, 2018, is given to a “socially and politically committed film”.
Among this year’s documentarians is one of Finland’s most renowned directors and producers, Jörn Donner, who attempts in “Fuck Off 2 – Images from Finland” (FIN 2017) to capture the enormous changes that have occurred in the country since he made the classic documentary “Fuck Off – Images from Finland” in 1971. As he journeyed around the country and spoke with a wide diversity of people, he shed light on immense income disparity, rural depopulation, and attitudes towards migrants – subjects that are also addressed in some of the section’s other films. Jörn Donner, born in 1933, will be guest in Lübeck. Husband and wife team Janus Metz and Sine Plambech, who won the NFL Documentary prize in 2009, have also made a sequel of sorts with “Heartbound – a Different Kind of Love Story” (DEN/HOL/SWE 2018). The film shows an anthropological bent as it looks at marriages between Danes and Thais, providing deep insight into those special inter-cultural relationships in Denmark’s northern reaches.
The films in the documentary section also look at other topical issues, such as the de-population of isolated European regions in “Estonian Stories. Kerro 40” (EST 2017) and “690 Vopnafjörður” (ICE 2017). The ramifications of technological progress for residents is the subject of “The River, My Friend” (SWI 2018) and “The Illuminators”, while changes to the working world in traditional trades such as commercial fishing play a role in “The Ocean – Fishing with Love” (DEN/FAR 2018) and “The Last in a Line of Fishermen” (SWE 2018).
Lastly, the rise and fall of a modern high-tech company is examined in “Nokia Mobile – We Were Connecting People” (FIN/NOR/GER 2017).
The importance of a structured life, education, and school systems for children and young adults is the subject of the two films “14 Cases” (EST 2017) and “To Be Continued” (LAT 2018), while by contrast, “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” (NOR/SWE 2018) and “The Night” (NOR/BEL/SWE 2017) look at the effects of drug addiction on families.
Among the films that look back at history are “Bad Circumstances” (DEN 2018), about the conquest of Greenland, and “The Raven and the Seagull” (DEN/GL 2018) about the relationship between colony and colonial powers. Other films on historical subjects are “The Eyes of a War” (FIN 2018) by Jouko Aaltonen and Seppo Rustanius, about child soldiers in Finland’s civil war, as well as “Iceland Defense Force – Cold War Frontier” (ICE 2017), in which directors Guðbergur Davíðsson and Konráð Gylfason take a close look at a NATO base in Keflavik, Iceland.
The 100th anniversary of the founding of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as Icelandic independence provides the perfect occasion for other films in the documentary section. For instance, directors Raimo Jõeran and Kiur Aarma look back at the first Estonian government, portraying it as a wild “Rodeo” (EST/FIN 2018). “Bridges of Time” (LAT/LIT/EST 2018) also brings back memories – in this case of the Baltic New Wave cinema that provided a counterpoint to the official Soviet film regime of the time. It’s a documentary about documentaries whose directors developed a poetic cinematic language in the 1960s. One of those filmmakers is Lette Ivars Seleckis, born in 1934, who is expected in Lübeck this year, where he will not only join director Kristine Briede to present “Bridges of Time”, but also screen his newest documentary “To Be Continued” (LAT 2018), which observes Latvian children as they go through their first school year.
A very special relationship is at the centre of this year’s Master Class on “Reality and Morality”, which focusses on the latest documentary by Norwegian director Erik Poppe, who recently created a bit of a sensation with “U – July 22” (NOR 2018, showing this year in the Specials section). In “Per Fugelli – I Die” (NOR 2018), Poppe accompanies his friend, the Norwegian physician and public health pioneer, through the final stages of Fugelli’s fatal cancer. The resulting film is both profound and absorbing. Erik Poppe himself will be at the Master Class to talk with young filmmakers about how to deal with highly sensitive subjects, and the filmmaker’s responsibility to his protagonists. He will also discuss the use of narrative filmmaking methods on documentary storytelling.
60th Nordische Filmtage Lübeck Documentary Program
14 Cases / 14 Käänet / 14 Fälle
Estland / 2017 / 85 Min.
Director(s): Marianna Kaat
Life between two cultures – for more than four years, this film followed Estonians of Russian descent, who have important decisions to make for their children.
690 Vopnafjör∂ur / 690 Vopnafjör∂ur / 690 Vopnafjör∂ur
Island / 2017 / 57 Min.
Director(s): Karna Sigur∂ardóttir
The highs and lows of daily life. The film is an honest portrait of a small, isolated fishing village in eastern Iceland, which shatters many an Iceland cliché.
Ahto. Chasing a Dream / Ahto. Unistuste jaht / Ahto. Chasing a Dream
Estland / 2018 / 92 Min.
Director(s): Jaanis Valk
In 1938, Ahto Valter set out to circumnavigate the globe with his family and a crew hired via newspaper ads. Kodak sponsored the film to record his 18-month trip.
Bad Circumstances / Slette omstændigheder / Widrige Umstände
Dänemark / 2018 / 58 Min.
Director(s): Max Kestner
Hobby historian Holberg is trying to track down a mystery from the history of the Greenland expeditions. But the closer he comes to it, the more mysterious it becomes.
Bridges of Time / Bridges of Time / Brücken der Zeit
Lettland / Litauen / Estland / 2018 / 80 Min.
Director(s): Kristine Briede, Audrius Stonys A documentary film about documentary films, made up of scenes from the Baltic New Wave, a group of directors who developed a poetic cinematic language in the 1960s.
D Is for Division / Mūris / Unruhige Grenze
Lettland / Tschechische Republik / 2018 / 87 Min.
Director(s): Dāvis Sīmanis
Latvia’s eastern border is regarded by many as a cultural dividing line between Russia and Europe. Davis Simanis visited it with his camera. A borderline experience.
Fuck Off 2 – Images from Finland / Perkele 2 – Kuvia Suomesta / Fuck Off 2 – Bilder aus
Finnland Finnland / 2017 / 93 Min.
Director(s): Jörn Donner
Is it worth living, loving and dying in today’s Finland? Jörn Dönner once again zeros in on social conditions in this sequel to the cult documentary “Fuck Off”.
Heartbound – A Different Kind of Love Story / Hjertelandet / Herzensland – Eine etwas andere Liebesgeschichte
Dänemark / Niederlande / Schweden / 2018 / 90 Min.
Director(s): Janus Metz, Sine Plambech
Between Thy and Thailand – a touching long-term film observation of Thai women who have sought a better life by marrying men from faraway, cold Denmark.
Iceland Defense Force – Cold War Frontier / „Varnarliðið“ kaldastríðsútvörður / Iceland Defense Force – Vorposten des Kalten Kriegs
Island / 2017 / 89 Min.
Director(s): Gu∂bergur Daví∂sson, Konrá∂ Gylfason
A meticulously researched documentary about a NATO base that existed in Keflavík, Iceland, from 1951 – 2006, giving the small country a role in the Cold War.
Maj Doris / Maj Doris / Maj Doris
Schweden / Norwegen / 2018 / 72 Min.
Director(s): Jon Blåhed
She is a star in the Sami community. The film is a warm-hearted portrait of artist and reindeer herder Maj Doris Rimpi as she moves through the arctic winter.
My Heart Belongs to Daddy / Røverdatter / Räubertochter
Norwegen / Schweden / 2018 / 83 Min.
Director(s): Sofia Haugan
How a young filmmaker tries to get her drug-addicted and criminal father back on the right track again. Disturbing, tragic – and funny.
Nokia Mobile – We Were Connecting People / Nokia Mobile – Matkapuhelimen tarina / Nokia Mobile – We Were Connecting People
Finnland / Norwegen / Deutschland / 2017 / 92 Min.
Director(s): Arto Koskinen
Once proud to work for Nokia, today some of them are ashamed of it. Former employees talk about the rise and fall of the Finnish mobile telephone giant.
Per Fugelli – I Die / Per Fugelli – siste resept / Per Fugelli – Das letzte Rezept
Norwegen / 2018 / 110 Min.
Director(s): Erik Poppe
In 2009, the doctor Per Fugelli became ill with cancer. In 2015, he stopped the treatment. In his view, health is all to do with the world in which we live.
Rodeo / Rodeo / Rodeo
Estland / Finnland / 2018 / 74 Min.
Director(s): Raimo Jõerand, Kiur Aarma
Government policies as a wild rodeo: This real political thriller reconstructs the term in office of Mart Laar, Estonia’s first prime minister after the Soviet era.
Roots / Juured / Wurzeln
Estland / 2018 / 102 Min.
Director(s): Nora Särak, Aljona Suržikova, Heilika Pikkov, Anna Hints, Moonika Siimets, Kersti Uibo
What are our roots? Six highly varied pieces by female Estonian documentary filmmakers on the subjects of home and family, shot for the country’s centenary.
The Illuminators / Valontuoja / Die das Licht brachten
Finnland / 2017 / 68 Min.
Director(s): Antti Haase
The documentary film maker Antti Haase tells the remarkable story of how his grandfather became Lapland’s father of light after the second world war.
The Night / Natta pappa henta oss / Die Nacht, als uns Papa abholte
Norwegen / Belgien / Schweden / 2017 / 65 Min.
Director(s): Steffan Strandberg
An autobiographical story about his childhood – director Steffan Strandberg’s mother was an alcoholic. In his film, he tackles difficult memories.
The Ocean – Fishing with Love / Havi∂ – Kærleiki umbor∂ / Das Meer – Liebe an Bord
Dänemark / Färöer / 2018 / 42 Min.
Director(s): Eir í Ólavsstovu
It’s the end of a tradition – only a single fishing boat still plies the waters of Eiði in the Faroe Islands. It belongs to Sonni and his wife Jenny.
The Raft / Flotten / Das Floß
Schweden / Dänemark / USA / Deutschland / 2017 / 98 Min.
Director(s): Marcus Lindeen
In 1973, eleven people crossed the Atlantic by raft. The reconstruction of a controversial social experiment, awarded at the CPH:DOX festival in Copenhagen.
The Raven and the Seagull / Lykkelænder / The Raven and the Seagull
Dänemark / Grönland / 2018 / 71 Min.
Director(s): Lasse Lau
A cinematic observation of relations between Greenland and Denmark. Echoes of colonial history resound along the coasts and icy landscapes of the far north.
The River, My Friend / Älven min Vän / Der Fluss, meine Freundin
Schweden / Schweiz / 2018 / 47 Min.
Director(s): Hannah Ambühl
A portrait of four women who live along Sweden’s Lule River. When the river opened to commercial traffic, their lives changed and traditions began to disappear.
The Snowball Rolled South / Riedėjo gniūžtė į pietus / Der Schneeball rollte gen Süden
Litauen / 2018 / 52 Min.
Director(s): Ieva Balsiūnaitė
The Lithuanian capital Vilnius was once a thriving centre of Jewish life. But at the end of the 19th century, tens of thousands of Jews left – for South Africa.
To Be Continued / Turpinājums / Fortsetzung folgt
Lettland / 2018 / 97 Min.
Director(s): Ivars Seleckis
This documentary film has five main protagonists. Ivars Seleckis followed children from various parts of Latvia throughout their first two years of school.
Documentary program (shorts)
As We’re Told / Vi bara lyder / Dienst nach Vorschrift
Schweden / 2017 / 28 Min.
Director(s): Erik Holmström, Fredrik Wenzel
The most unpopular government agency in Sweden is the employment agency. Puppet animation based on research for the nonfiction book “Vi bara lyder”.
Confessions of an Angry Mother / En arg mors bekännelser / Bekenntnisse einer wütenden Mutter
Finnland / 2018 / 6 Min.
Director(s): Catarina Diehl
When the children were small, their mother says, she was distraught. Now she’s mostly angry. Report on daily routines and feelings that have long been taboo.
Estonian Stories. Kerro 40 / Eesti lood. Kerro 40 / Estnische Geschichten. Kerro 40
Estland / 2017 / 28 Min.
Director(s): Aljona Suržikova
Celebrations are a must in rural areas. For three generations, Estonian folklore has been practised at the family club Kerro. Now the 40th anniversary is coming up.
The Eyes of a War 1918 / Sodan Silmät 1918 / Die Augen des Krieges 1918
Finnland / 2018 / 22 Min.
Director(s): Jouko Aaltonen, Seppo Rustanius
During the Finnish civil war, both the Red Guards and the white forces had children fighting in uniform. “The Eyes of a War 1918” memorializes them.
The Last in a Line of Fishermen / Den sista hummerfiskaren / Der letzte Hummerfischer
Schweden / 2018 / 29 Min.
Director(s): Karolin Axelsson
Generational portrait on a cutter. Can filmmaker Karolin Axelsson learn from her father to fish lobsters and preserve the family tradition?